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Streaming Media
March 09, 2004

Table of Contents

Nero Now Supports DVD+R Double-Layer Recording
ASACA Demonstrates Sony PDD-based Libraries at AIIM
Panasonic Includes Ulead Tools with DVD-Multi Drives
WinDVD 5 with DVD-Audio Pack Supports Intel HD Audio
CyberLink Introduces Precise-Cut Video EditingTechnology
DVDemand Launches the DVDGenerator Version 1.95
Samsung Introduces New LCD Monitor
Toshiba Announces Additions to Satellite Notebook Series
The Editor's Spin: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Nero Now Supports DVD+R Double-Layer Recording

Ahead Software announced the first all-in-one DVD+R Double Layer (DL) software suite. All of Nero's applications in this enhanced version of its OEM digital media suite will fully support DVD+R DL drives, allowing 8.5GB DVD writing, authoring, backup and recoding. The optical recording technology landscape will once again be transformed in 2004 with Double Layer DVD recording that will double the capacity of existing writable DVD discs, broadening the universe of video and data storage.

NeroVision Express 2 takes video capturing, editing, photo slideshows and animated menu creation to the next level with its support of full DVD-Video authoring on DVD+R DL, doubling the capacity to four hours of standard DVD-quality video. Featuring the Nero Digital MPEG-4 encoder, Nero Recode 2 enables the user to recode several non-copy protected movies to a single DVD+R DL disc in DVD-Video format, or more than ten movies in Nero Digital's MPEG-4 format.

Nero Digital combines MPEG-4 video with HE-AAC audio and has full subtitle support. In addition, this comprehensive software suite offers Nero BackItUp, which takes full advantage of the increased capacity of a DVD+R DL disc, allowing users to run scheduled backups, password-protect their data and choose from various backup modes such as full or incremental. Nero Express 6 allows users to burn standard data and digital audio discs with up to 8.5 GB in size.

Also included is the essential drive testing utility, Nero Toolkit, the powerful DVD and digital video playback software Nero ShowTime, the standard packet writing application InCD 4 and the label creator Nero Cover Designer. Each application can be accessed with a single click via the one-of-a-kind application launcher Nero StartSmart, proving users with an at-a-glance overview of what DVD drives have to offer.

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ASACA Demonstrates Sony PDD-based Libraries at AIIM

During this year's AIIMExpo, ASACA Corporation, will demonstrate its largest blue laser-based library, the TeraCart at the Sony Electronics booth. Based on Sony's new Professional Disc for DATA drives, these new libraries offer more than double the capacity of red laser optical libraries and data throughput speeds comparable to tape-based solutions; yet require no more than a four foot square of floor space. The new blue laser TeraCart provides the capacity and fast random access to files necessary for organizations to gain compliance with a barrage of new government regulations designed to improve data retention policies, including Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) strategies and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Designed to meet the performance and 7x24 operation requirements of business environments, the new TeraCart is engineered to serve a broad range of commercial and professional data storage use in such markets as medical, broadcast, healthcare, and government. Available with SAN and NAS support, the modular library offers the flexibility to start with a single cabinet and expand to as many as eight libraries for capacities reaching hundreds of Terabytes. Using pass-through and infrared communications, the libraries can be managed as a single physical unit.

Each library can be equipped with one to six Sony Professional Disc for DATA drives. ASACA's expanded line of TeraCart libraries integrating Sony's professional-grade blue laser technology drives and PD media are now available in three scaleable models: the AM80, the AM240, and the AM420 offering up to 1.8TB, 5.5TB, and 9.8TB storage respectively. ASACA's TeraCart AM Series with Sony blue laser and PD technologies are expected to have a starting price of $20,000. Sony's 5.25-inch rewritable and write-once Professional Disc for DATA media stores up to 23GB on a single side and is now available for $45 per disc.

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Panasonic Includes Ulead Tools with DVD-Multi Drives

Disc Creator Panasonic Industrial Company announced that support of its OEM DVD-Multi drives for video editing and DVD authoring continues to grow with the addition of Ulead Systems, Inc. Ulead, a provider of digital media software, offers extensive support for Panasonic's OEM DVD-Multi Drives with a suite of video editing and DVD authoring software that can read, edit and write video to DVD-RAM media. Ulead software provides features that include "on disc" editing, "direct to disc," and complete support for video recorded on DVD-RAM set-top DVD recorders.

Three of Ulead's top video and DVD/CD software solutions offer extensive support for the DVD-RAM format. These include Ulead VideoStudio 7 for intuitive video editing with professional real-time technology and DVD MovieFactory 3 Disc Creator for editing and authoring movies and photo slide shows to DVDs and CDs, as well as burning music and data. MediaStudio Pro provides professional-level video editing with integrated DVD authoring to produce high-quality video productions on DVD and CD.

All three products provide "on disc" editing to save time and hard disk space by enabling users to edit video projects directly on DVD-RAM media without using the hard drive. At the same time, DVD MovieFactory 3 Disc Creator offers "direct to disc," the fastest way to transfer video from a camcorder directly to DVD-RAM media bypassing the hard drive. Furthermore, DVD MovieFactory 3 Disc Creator gives consumers who own set-top DVD-RAM recorders a way to transfer, edit, re-edit and share video using their Panasonic OEM DVD MULTI Drive.

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WinDVD 5 with DVD-Audio Pack Supports Intel HD Audio

InterVideo, Inc. announced that WinDVD 5 supports playback of Intel High Definition (HD) Audio, Intel's next-generation audio standard (formerly known as "Azalia"). When combined with InterVideo's optional DVD-Audio Pack and a PC incorporating Intel HD Audio with the upcoming Grantsdale chipset, WinDVD 5 provides OEMs and end users with a complete, easy-to-use solution for playback of the highest-quality multi-channel sound.

Focused on bringing CE-quality audio to desktop and laptop PCs, InterVideo has broad experience in leveraging the Dolby premier audio technologies that are included in Intel HD Audio. WinDVD 5 and the DVD-Audio Add-on Pack evolved through groundbreaking development work carried out in collaboration with Dolby Laboratories and the development of the proprietary InterVideo Channel Extension (ICE) multichannel expansion technology. Using these proven technologies, InterVideo software serves as the enabler for Intel's HD Audio technology, delivering an in-depth PC listening experience that rivals home theater systems.

By adding the InterVideo DVD-Audio Pack software, WinDVD can be used with most consumer desktop or notebook PCs for playback of both DVD-Audio and Dolby Digital multichannel audio. The software automatically detects the audio source and gives users complete navigation of the disc's album content. This capability enables users to skip tracks, play music and access special disc menus with audio still videos, real-time text, slide shows and other entertaining content.

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CyberLink Introduces Precise-Cut Video EditingTechnology

CyberLink Corp. has announced its Precise-Cut technology to ensure more accurate trimming of unwanted video in PowerDirector 3 by allowing users to magnify a section on the trim bar.

Precise-Cut technology is ideal for long clips; it improves users control over the editing process by offering a precise method of trimming unwanted sections of video frame-by-frame. The results are more satisfying as Precise- Cut offers the ability to enhance the quality and professionalism of users' creations. There is also a split video function that enables users to quickly cut any video clip into two pieces.

Video can also be trimmed using the Media Editor window by magnifying a section of video on the trim bar. This function makes it ideal for editing long or complex video clips. The Media Editor is a large, resizable preview window that offers a scalable timeline. A simple click can enable the Precise-Cut magnifier to zoom in or out on the timeline.

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DVDemand Launches the DVDGenerator Version 1.95

DVDemand, a leading provider of DVD and CD on-demand fulfillment server systems, launched the DVDGenerator 1.95, the latest version of the its engine for on-demand production of demand DVD video and DVD-ROM.

DVDGenerator is a turnkey solution for distributing high quality content media on CD or DVD. The system can store any type of digital media, such as video, audio, software, games, and raw data. The user selects media items through a Web site, creating his own disc. Once the media items are selected, the DVDGenerator, which is integrated with a robotic DVD-R/CD-R production system, automatically generates a CD or DVD, including disc graphics and printed DVD-case insert. The disc can then be shipped to the customer via FedEx/Mail. The customer can watch the disc using his DVD device or PC.

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Samsung Introduces New LCD Monitor

Samsung's SyncMaster 172X is a 17-inch unit that'sperfect for multimedia-driven applications such as gaming, animation, and viewing video on the Internet. With 12-millisecond response time, the 172X significantly reduces image ghosting and jagged pixel effects.

The 172X sports a lightweight design and utilizes Samsung's proprietary MagicTune software and MagicBright display technology.

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Toshiba Announces Additions to Satellite Notebook Series

Toshiba's Digital Products Division has introduced three new notebooks in its Satellite Series of portable PCs -- the value-priced Satellite A10-S100, mid-range Satellite A40-S161 and the Satellite M30-S350. Toshiba's new notebooks offer a range of features that allow users to be mobile, productive and entertained in sizes and styles to meet every taste and budget.

All three of Toshiba's new Satellite notebooks come fully loaded with Microsoft Office OneNote, enabling mobile professionals to easily capture, organize, share and manage data for maximum productivity.

Designed for first-time or budget-conscious users, the Satellite A10-S100 features the Intel Celeron processor, large hard drive and enough memory to handle most computing needs. The Satellite A10 also includes multimedia capabilities such as a built-in DVD drive and CD burner for backing up important data, playing CDs or viewing movies.

The Toshiba Satellite A40-S161 steps up as an easy replacement to a desktop PC offering the right mix of features and performance. The Satellite A40's Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor, generous memory and large hard drive enables it to handle the most challenging tasks, including developing multimedia presentations and data reports particularly in environments where users have multiple applications open at once. The unit also includes SRS TruSurround XT(R) technology to provide an enhanced listening experience during CD or DVD playback.

For the notebook user focused on high-style combined with uncompromising functionality, Toshiba's Satellite M30-S350 features an expanded hard drive, increased graphics performance and a bright 15.4-inch diagonal display. At a mere 1 inch thick and weighing slightly over 6 pounds, this notebook offers all the benefits of a wide-screen display like viewing movies, working on multiple applications side-by-side or editing spreadsheets in a package smaller than notebooks with standard size screens. The Satellite M30-S350 also features Intel's Centrino technology for increased performance, enhanced wireless communications and extended battery life.

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The Editor's Spin: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Perhaps I have a weakness for lost causes, or maybe I'm just ashamed of myself. But I must admit I felt a twinge of guilt two weeks ago when the Northern District Court of California brought the hammer down on 321 Studios, forcing them to recall unsold copies of DVD X Copy and re-issue the software "ripper-free." Have I ever used this monthly bully pulpit to support 321 Studios? Hardly.

The best thing I've done for that company in their ongoing legal ordeal is to print two eloquent letters from 321 founder Robert Moore lambasting me for mocking the pitch of his rhetoric. And I know that ain't much.

I hate seeing small companies get sued into oblivion by big companies. I've seen it way too often in this industry, from Cedar to Prassi to Napster. I've railed against that very practice in this column before. And I suppose I've resisted the urge to write a column like that about 321 Studios simply because I've never been convinced that 321's right to sell content-descrambling is the same as consumers' rights to use it. But that's a meaningless distinction at this point. Clearly, Universal Studios et al. think those two are one and the same, and that's why 321 has been hung out to dry. The movie industry's assault on 321 Studios is outrageous entertainment-biz dirty pool, and I applaud 321 for fighting back. And I have no doubt in my mind I should have applauded them louder and sooner.

Is the district court's ruling the last we'll hear about 321 Studios? I hope not. I'd like to believe 321 Studios is now closing one chapter in their history and beginning another one. Though I'm sure they'll continue to fight for the DVD X Copy we once knew—and let's face it, they've been badly bullied, so they ought to fight on—they'd do well to throw some weight behind the compromised version they're left with now. With or without the controversial DVD ripping component, DVD X Copy Platinum is an out-and-out masterpiece.

Back in the mid-'90s when next to no one was burning music CDs, digital audio extraction (now known as "ripping") was an oddly esoteric art. The few tools that did it were slow, unreliable, and subject to the little-known buffer overflow. But there was a small company called OMI that made a Mac-only ripper called Disc-to-Disk. On a 2X CD-ROM drive, in a mere 30 seconds per track and absolutely reliably, Disc-to-Disk did something that took competing products several minutes or more, with maddening inconsistency.

In early 1997, as I recall, OMI was bought by Microtest, who summarily buried Disc-to-Disk. By the time CD ripping came into vogue several months later, everybody had a swift and steadfast ripper. Why it took others so long to get their act together, I've never figured out. My colleague Hugh Bennett says the reason the CD-R industry took so long to catch the audio wave wasn't technological—they were just plumb scared to take the plunge, fearing the legal repercussions of such a move. Who knew, in 1995, how conventional wisdom would judge audio CD ripping and burning? Who would have guessed that—at least until the advent of Napster and peer-to-peer—the rigid reactionaries at the RIAA would look the other way?

I bring up OMI and its revolutionary ripper not because the DVD "ripping" technology (different process, same result) in DVD X Copy is anything special. It's not. I could download a free DVD ripper right now that circumvents the copy protection on a Hollywood movie every bit as effectively. I just Googled the name of a smart, fool-proof DVD ripper I know and turned up 53,500 hits in 0.12 seconds. I'm not saying what's right and what's wrong as far as DeCSS'ing DVDs goes, or bottling and selling descrambling software, for that matter. But I will say that ripping the ripper out of DVD X Copy won't make DeCSS go away. Or that doing so will make the slightest dent in DVD piracy. DVD X Copy isn't the problem and it never was.

What really makes DVD X Copy analogous to Disc-to-Disk—and what makes it such a thrilling product—is the other half of it. What the old DVD X Copy does after ripping the DVD, and the new one does exclusively (well, not exclusively—it has other excellent, well-implemented features—but stay with me here), is unpack the VOBs on a DVD-9 and recompress the video so it fits onto a 4.7GB DVD±R. That's not to say it has no competition in this space: Pinnacle, InterVideo, Roxio, and Nero have all gotten into the recompression game.

The others will all get the job done most of the time, but put them on the track with DVD X Copy, and X Copy's already taken a victory lap, sat patiently through the press conference, and signed an endorsement deal with Adidas before the others have started the gun lap. Which is to say nothing of the fluid grace of its GUI. It's not just a speed issue—no other tool makes it as easy to economize disc space by picking and choosing the language tracks, audio formats, and titles you want to keep on your final disc. Across the board, there's just no comparison.

All that said, I know the spotlight will stay on 321's legal struggles for some time. That's too bad, because now's the time to separate the ripper from the real genius that's in the X Copy engine and put the spotlight on that. It still leaves me scratching my head, just as it did almost a decade ago when I compared Disc-to-Disk to its scant and sluggish competition. How come they've figured this out and no one else has? And why isn't that what people talk about when they pass judgment on 321 Studios?

I just wish I'd asked that question here sooner.

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